NOT another “no pictures allowed” place. I wept. After lining up for a long time under the heat of the Spanish sun, it would have been great to at least document the visit and share this attraction’s opulent beauty with everyone. To be honest, it’s all about this guy’s memory retention—it’s challenged, most especially on sightseeing trips when information is served in an overload. On this instance, the documentation went only as far as the exterior walls of the palace.
Sitting on a 13-heactare property, the Palacio Real is huge with 3,418 rooms, 870 windows, 240 balconies and 44 staircases (the Sabatini-designed main staircase with more than 70 steps being the most notable) spread across 135,000 square meters of floor space making it the largest palace in Europe by floor area. It was once a fortress constructed in the 9th century as an outpost but got burned in 1743. By order of King Philip V, a new palace was built on the site.
The new palace possesses a number of collectible and precious artistic treasures by masters Morales, Caravaggio, Velasquez and Goya, to mention a few.
Among the salas, the most impressive would be the Apartments of Charles III which included the 18th century-decorated Gasparini Room (named after the designer), said to be a “consummate masterpiece of Rococo style,” the ceramic embellished Sala de la Porcelana with porcelain plaques manufactured by the La Granja factory, and the SalaAmarilla (Yellow Room) decorated in yellow silk.
The velvet wall clad Salon de Trono (Throne Room) that features a ceiling frescoes done by Tiepolo is equally as stunning, so is the Royal Library stocked with
300,000 books, 4,000 manuscripts, 2,000 drawings and prints, 3,500 maps and 3,000 volumes of music, not to mention collections of coins and Stradivarius violins.
And speaking of Stradivarius, the Music Room holds a collection of string instruments made by the legendary Antonio Stradivari, which is said to be the world’s only complete string quintet.
But if you’re into battle gears, the Royal Armory is the place for you. It exhibits 3,000 pieces of weapons and armors worn by the kings o Spain and members of the Royal Family since the 13th century.
Yes, I had to abide by the house rule, as it is the official residence of the royal family of Spain, it has been from King Carlos III to King Alfonso XIII. But FYI not any of the blue bloods live here, this palace is not their home. They chose to live in a more modest accommodation in the outskirts of the Madrid, in the compound where the Palacio de la Zarzuela is (King Carlos and Queen Sofia’s previous residence), where the current royalty lives in a nearby mansion in the same complex.
No pictures allowed maybe because it is still used for official ceremonies—awarding, royal audiences and banquets and other important events—or they just want me to buy the book containing the images of the palace at the souvenir shop on the end of the tour. Thanks to Google, I didn’t have to spend another Euro to refresh what I had seen in the amazing palace. It’s a worth the visit, even without taking a single photo within its premises.
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